Today we consider Clout’s rule on coincidences: We don’t believe in them.
District Attorney Larry Krasner, now seeking a second term, is challenged in the Democratic primary by Carlos Vega, a former top prosecutor Krasner fired when he took office in 2018.
Krasner is a polarizing figure, drawing commendation and condemnation since his first campaign four years ago. And now we get a retrospective, just in time for the primary!
What a coincidence.
The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will premiere on Feb. 2 and 3 the first two episodes of Philly D.A., a documentary series from a film crew given inside access four years ago to Krasner’s campaign and then his first term.
The production’s public relations team is holding back details — no spoilers! — until closer to the premiere, which will apparently include television distribution and streaming plans.
The description on the Sundance website touts Krasner’s three decades as a civil rights attorney, including more than 75 lawsuits against the Philadelphia Police Department, before he became “an unlikely candidate for district attorney.”
“Passionate in his beliefs, and buoyed by activists committed to ending mass incarceration, Krasner set out to revolutionize his city’s criminal justice system from the inside,” it proclaims. “But after establishing a truly radical platform, Philly D.A. asks, can this controversial figure actually implement meaningful change?”
Vega, critical of Krasner’s record amid a rising rate of murders and shootings, is suspicious about the timing.
“Since he has a challenger who has a grassroots movement based on his policies, he’s reaching out to his elites, outside of the city and outside of the state, to help him in the campaign,” Vega said.
Brandon Evans, Krasner’s campaign manager, said Krasner has no control over the series, including when it is made public.
“We agreed to participate because we thought it important to shine light and add transparency to what happens in the criminal justice system — a system typically shrouded in secrecy even though it impacts millions,” Evans said. “We have no idea whether or not it will impact the campaign.”
(A few Inquirer staffers were among those interviewed by the documentary makers).
Vega, who still has a pending federal lawsuit against Krasner, alleging his 2018 firing was age discrimination, has appeared in six episodes of the series Homicide City on the true-crime network Investigation Discovery. One episode centers on Vega securing murder convictions for two men who killed three people during a 2011 West Philly bodega robbery.
Krasner represented one of the defendants in that case.
An entry Lewis Thomas III didn’t want on his resumé
Loyal Clout readers know this column has a handful of frequent fliers, folks who turn up again and again until they make their fortune in politics … or are led away in handcuffs.
Put Lewis Thomas III in the latter category.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed charges against Thomas two days before Christmas, accusing him of stealing thousands of dollars from the 2017 Democratic primary campaign for district attorney he managed for former Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni. She finished in last place in a seven-candidate race.
“He decided to lie and cheat and steal,” said Deni’s lawyer, Sam Stretton. “It was terrible what he did to Judge Deni.”
Thomas’ lawyer, Lewis Small, said there are “explanations” for the campaign’s finances. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get this resolved,” he added.
Thomas came to Clout’s attention in 2015 when he was mulling a run for City Council, with an expansive resumé that crumbled under our scrutiny. There were claims of master’s and doctorate degrees from Howard University, advisory posts to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, membership in an elite fraternity, and more.
None of it checked out. Thomas admitted to Clout that he had “embellished” his credentials.
He now faces three felony and three misdemeanor charges of theft and receiving stolen property, accused of looting Deni’s campaign account to pay for his son’s private-school tuition, 90 iTunes online purchases for games and music, an Apple watch, a MacBook Air laptop computer, and round-trip airline tickets to Orlando, Fla. Investigators say he covered his tracks by filing false campaign-finance reports.
Thomas, the charges say, also missed state deadlines to file campaign-finance reports in 2018 for his third failed Democratic primary bid for a state House seat. Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers was his biggest backer, contributing $25,000 to his campaign that year. His uncle, longtime political consultant Tommie St. Hill, has worked for the union.
St. Hill recommended Thomas to Deni as a campaign manager.
Stephanie Singer knows Donald Trump’s pain
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before — things go south in an election and an angry politician lobs all the blame onto the courts and media.
We’re not talking about President Donald Trump. Instead, say hello again to former one-term Philadelphia City Commissioner Stephanie Singer.
She was bounced off the 2015 Democratic primary ballot in a legal challenge for not having enough signatures on nomination petitions. In an op-ed this week for the Washington Post, Singer wrote: “I know what a stolen election feels like.”
It’s a rehash of old complaints. The judge didn’t listen. A reporter didn’t take her side.
Singer isn’t saying the presidential election was stolen, just that Trump should “grieve, heal and move on.” Hmm. Singer’s anger still feels fresh in how she wraps up:
“And next time you run, just be sure to win by enough that no one can cheat you out of it.”